Archive | Productivity

Get More Done With A Better To-Do List

“You’re the one who is slave to the to-do list,” he told me one afternoon. I don’t even remember what it was we were sparring about, just that he wasn’t doing something I thought he should be doing, something that was on my list but not on his. We both want to get more done, we just have different ways of getting there.

The fact is, he mostly doesn’t keep a list at all. I’m not actually advocating that practice, but mostly that’s because I have a bad memory and I’m easily overwhelmed, and having a list to refer to helps me with both of those things.

But do I want to be a slave to that list? No! I do not. And I’m sure you don’t want to be a slave to yours either. You want to feel like you are in charge of your own time. You want to get more done, but joyfully.

Get more done and feel better about it with a better to-do list. ::

Your list should feel like a friend, a supportive guide, a path along and toward the life you want to be living. Not something you compare yourself to, or fall short at, or beat yourself up about. That is not helpful in any way.

The truth is, my list did often feel more like a big stick that I was trying not to let hit me than a friendly guide.…

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How to Read All The Books You Want To

If you want to have more time to read, set a goal and make a few small adjustments. Now get to reading all those great books. ::

This year I have a goal to read 40 books. That feels a bit audacious, even though I know people who have a reading goal much higher even than that.

I started setting reading goals for myself a couple of years ago, when I realized I was hardly reading any more and I really really missed the act of really getting lost in a good book. I missed the intellectual workout. I missed the escape from my day to day life and the peek into lives far different than my own. I missed the practice of reading good writing and studying the craft of it, to make my own writing better. I just missed being a reader and I wanted to be a reader again.

Each year since then I’ve passed my goal, so I feel confident in sharing what I’ve learned about finding more time to read, so you, too, can read all the books you want to.

Make It Easy

To make your book the first thing you turn to, you have to make it really easy. Easier than picking up your phone and opening Facebook.

I love paper books. I really, really do. But I realized that if I wanted to read more, I was going to have to embrace other formats.…

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5 Ways To Find More Energy When You’ve Hit The Wall

5 tips for finding more energy when you need to power it up. ::

Background photo by Martin Wessely

Wintertime is my least energetic time of year. I want to curl up under a blanket, in front of a fire, and read or knit or nap.

As much as possible I do those things. My natural cycle is to be slow in the winter and active and productive in the warmer months. I try to honor that.

But some days I really need to get a bit of hustle on and get things done. On those days, I’ve learned a few tricks to wake my body up and dig deep to find more energy.

If you are feeling sluggish and need a move on today, here are five ways to get yourself going.

1. Move Your Body

It is the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling sleepy, but getting your body moving is the easiest way to wake up. Have a five minute dance party, go for a quick walk, or just do a few yoga stretches (this site shows 10 two-pose combinations that are great energy builders).

2. Drink Some Water

Adequate hydration supports good circulation and efficient muscle function. If you are feeling sluggish, drink a glass of water to help your body function in top form, which will help you feel more energetic.…

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Focus Your Day With A Single Goal

If being productive today means doing only one thing, what's the thing you need to do? :: www.nurturedmama.netWhen life is feeling overwhelming, when I’m managing in crisis mode, or simply when I’m very tired, I have a secret weapon for success.

I plan to do only one thing. Focusing on a single thing feels manageable.

Sometimes that thing is very small. I plan to brush my teeth (start the day with a victory!). I plan to take a shower, which might not even happen until right before bed. I plan to make one phone call that I’m feeling nervous about.

If achieving my one thing cascades into energy to finish another one thing, or maybe two, that’s awesome. But if it just allows me to give myself permission to take it easy, that’s perfectly fine.

Sometimes my one thing is more of an attitude than an accomplishment. My goal might be to speak kindly, if I’ve been very cranky recently. It might be to forgive, if my love and I have been arguing. It might be to be patient, if my small girl has being trying.

I choose my one thing because it is the thing that I most need, even if the practice of it also feels most challenging.…

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Workflow Wednesday: How I Use The Printable Charm Planner Pack

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I go back and forth with my planning and scheduling support. Mostly I like my planning systems to be digital and in the cloud, so that I can get to them whenever and from whatever device I have handy. But I have a weakness for pretty planners, too.

This year I put together a printed planner for my blog that has been a huge help for keeping me on track and organized. Also, when I’m overwhelmed, I move off the computer to paper. I don’t know why, but the simplicity of paper and pen seems to help me feel like everything is more concrete and achievable. Or maybe I just like being able to cross things off with a pen when they are done.

I’ve been following Sarah Bell of  Printable Charm on Instagram since before she launched her shop, and I love her designs and her philosophy toward life: “I want to feel good about spending quality time with my family, knowing we are focused on the things that will actually matter in 10 years!” So when she put out a call for bloggers interested in trying and reviewing one of her Printable Charm Planner Packs, I jumped at the opportunity.…

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8 Ways To Make More Time In Your Day

8 Ways To Make More Time In Your Day ::

This is a post I wrote last year about how I made time to work toward a dream in the midst of raising an active toddler. Whether you are looking to make more time in your life for creativity, or for working on a big project, these tips are still so very applicable. I’m pulling them out of the archive to share again.

In a life filled with small children, a home to keep running and a relationship to invest in, where does a mama find time to work on a dream? Don’t despair, you can always make time when something is really important to you. Here are a few ways I found time to get to my goal of launching this blog.

1. I scheduled it.

Scheduling time to work toward an important goal is essential. When you write your dream-building time into your calendar you are making a commitment both to yourself and to your dream. When those hours are blocked off on your calendar and a conflict arises, it is so much easier to say, “I’m sorry, I’m already scheduled then.” Because you are.

Can you find one or two hours you can hold sacred each week? 

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Get Organized Using Your Smart Phone

Get Organized Using Your Smart Phone

This post was originally published on  Modern Alternative Mama.

As a former project manager for large and complex projects in the computer software industry, I know a bit about keeping information organized and my workflow streamlined. When I got my first iPhone I thought it was a cool gadget and that it would be handy to be able to check my email and surf the web from anywhere.

I really had no idea the impact that one device was going to make on my life. Now, several models and many technical advances later, I can say that my smart phone has changed the way I live. I no longer carry or use a paper calendar, I rarely ever jot down a shopping list except inside an app, I track my to-do lists entirely in the cloud and I keep track of all my work and personal projects and ideas inside my phone.

Few would disagree that smart phones have the ability to help you get and stay more organized, but I often hear that people don’t know where to start, they feel overwhelmed, or they can’t find the apps that best fit their needs.

Drawing on my career background and having spent many hours experimenting with organizational and productivity apps, I have three tips on how to use your smartphone to get (and stay) organized and 13 apps I recommend for busy moms with busy families.…

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An Anti-Resolution Manifesto

Anti-Resolution Manifesto ::

I’m a natural planner and organizer. It is deeply embedded in my personality. I sort things for fun.

I love to set goals and break down projects into achievable steps. I love lists and crossing things off of them. This kind of thing used to be my career and I loved it.

But what I don’t love is planning and goal-setting in January.  I don’t like New Year’s resolutions.

I do love the feel of the fresh start of a new year. I love the blank slate of possibility. I love the room to dream about what the future might hold.

But in January what I want to do most is sleep. I want to clean my house of all the Christmas stuff and make everything fit back into their proper places (this takes some doing, after the influx of holiday gifts for a 3-year-old!). I want to eat a lot of vegetables to counter all the crap I ate in December. I want to perfect my green smoothie recipe and sit in the sun with a book as often as there is sun to sit in.

This week I’m delighted to have a clean kitchen counter and a dining room table with only candles on it.…

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Soul-Fed Mama: Make Big Progress In Just 15 Minutes

Make Big Progress In Just 15 Minutes, part of the Soul-Fed Mama series on

This morning I am feeling overwhelmed. I have lists of projects I want to work on, a calendar full of things I have committed to, and the buzzing background thoughts of household chores and cleaning and fixing that I need to deal with. I am having trouble focusing on any one thing to accomplish anything.

Instead of working productively on anything, I’m letting myself get distracted by Facebook and email, which are decidedly unproductive.

Does this sound familiar?

The way out of this is to start somewhere, do one thing, and give it your entire focus. Even if you only give it a short amount of time, you will accomplish something. That accomplishment will propel you forward to the next task and the next and before you know it your list will be shorter and your shoulders will feel less burdened.

I love the 15 minute method. 15 minutes feels achievable. I can always find 15 minutes in a day to do something focused. What is amazing, though, is how much you can actually accomplish in only 15 minutes.

The idea is to so simple. Just set a timer for 15 minutes and work on one project until the timer goes off.…

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Self-Care Challenge: Make a Meal Plan

cook book stack

photo credit: Mrs Magic via photopin cc

Back when I was working full time and didn’t have a kid, I used to read blogs about women who planned out their weekly (or monthly!) menus and think, “Wow, I could never do that.” I was attached to my spontaneity. I was unwilling to give up my weekend time to do the planning.

But then I had a kid and now I’m home all the time and I’m responsible for dinner. Every night. It seems really unfair how unrelenting that task is sometimes. Every night. Everyone expects to be fed. I like to cook, but I get so bored with making dinner after a while.

For months dinner was really stressful. I’d stand in front of the fridge, in my fuzzy sleep-deprived state, and wonder what I could cook. Every recipe seemed to be missing an ingredient or two. I’d go the store without a plan and leave with a large bill and food I planned to cook until I got it home and the next day I couldn’t remember what dishes I’d been thinking about. 10 potatoes and two artichokes? I’d end up back at the store two or three times each week, lugging the car seat back and forth, getting things I still needed.…

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